The traffic out of Downtown San Diego could be worse…it could also be better. Luckily the drive to Viejas Casino & Resort is a quick and a brisk 25 minutes with no need to traverse twisty back-country roads. Pull up a classic rock hits playlist on Spotify, open the window and sing to a Queen song, as you cruise on Interstate 8 making the drive even more pleasant.
Exiting Willows Road, you realize how close Viejas is to the freeway, less than a mile later, an oasis emerges among the Alpine valley. Willows Hotel stands majestically in front of you. Valet is quick and always smiling, they remind you of that show “Cheers” when Norm entered the bar. Willows is just a place where everyone knows your name.
The check-in again is seamless. Your room is waiting for you to launch this getaway from the day-to-day. The endless emails. The never-ending texts. The mundane.
Work doesn’t exist at Willows Hotel & Spa.
A Suite at Willows is more than just a room, it’s an experience. At first, your eyes are inundated with luxury and elegance. The White and grey cleanliness, the TV playing ambient sounds of relaxation.
Even though you’ve stayed in other hotel rooms, there’s something different about this one. There’s something special that just encompasses the rejuvenation of the mind, body, and soul.
You do what you’ve always wanted to do, even as a kid, you drop whatever you have in your hands and just jump on the bed. The spring back from an amazing mattress is immediately felt. You even think to yourself, maybe I should take a quick nap but no, you have a night of fun waiting for you.
The rest will have to wait.
I reserved my seat at the best steakhouses in San Diego. I had seen this all over the internet, reviews galore, you have to try the Grove,
the Grove is the best! Okay, I’m here, ready to try it out.
The first thing I realized was how happy everyone who works here is. The servers, the greeters, and the check-in associate. They just enjoy their job, and that’s something that may be missing in today’s customer service field.
My server, Janet, greets me with a smile, of course. Takes my drink order and then cautiously tells me that the special today is to die for. I of course ask what it is and she says Steak and Lobster.
Can’t go wrong with surf ‘n’ turf Janet, bring me that.
The wine was perfect. I splurged for a salad, you know, to open the appetite. It was cold and dressed immaculate. Then I get my special. The filet was tender and soft, melting in my mouth while lobster was amazing, reminding me of a trip I took to Puerto Nuevo a couple of years back. I remember asking myself how was Viejas able to transfer me to the ocean landscape of Baja California in one dish.
I always split 8’s when playin Blackjack. Even if the book says yes or no, it doesn’t matter. I’m reminded of why I’m at Viejas. It’s to relax, to dine, to have fun. I’m a rule breaker. I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do.
The move works perfectly. The dealer busts and here I sit with two towers of chips. The table is amazingly nice. There’s a couple from San Diego also here on a getaway, another gentleman here just to play. The dealer is smiling, winning is contagious.
I color up. I started with one bill, now I have many. Time to try my luck at the slots.
The lights of the slot machines are hypnotic, they remind me of a party I have an exclusive invitation to. Reels upon reels of winning. I guess I have that magic touch tonight.
A server asks if I’d like something to drink—I say sure, why not, the Viejas signature drink looks tasty. In no time I have my drink, another big win. I tell the server, guess you’re my lucky charm tonight. She smiles.
I look around the gaming floor and something I notice is that everyone is just happy. There are no pouting or sore losers. People are just having a good time in a beautiful casino. It was at that time that I hit another big win. The person playing the machine next to me also says lucky night tonight. I agree with him. I am lucky.
I turn to the Lobby Bar and a band is playing some 80s pop songs. I immediately remember my prom and how happy I was dancing under the twinkling lights. Here at Viejas, I too am happy, dancing with cash under the twinkling lights.
Life couldn’t get better.
Normally on a getaway, I’d stay up a little later but I know tomorrow is another exciting day at Viejas. So I change into some comfortable clothes and lay in plush luxury.
I think to myself how lucky I truly am to be able to be here, right now, at this very moment. To have such an elegant and luxurious place to stay just 25 minutes away.
Before I know it, my eyes are heavy and I calmly slip away into a peaceful nights rest.
I’m normally an early riser, but today I decided to sleep in. No noisy gardeners or honking horns. Just the serene sounds of nature enveloped in plush sheets of comfort.
I pick up the phone and order some room service, hotcakes with a side of bacon and sausage. The diet can start later. The food is at my door quickly. It’s delicious, perfectly seasoned and sweet. It truly is a great start to the day.
My esthetician’s name is Stacy and like every other person at Viejas has a smile permanently etched on her face. Her hands are strong and yet gentle at the same time. The session at Willows Spa makes this trip extra special. It allows me to take care of myself. Far from the work. From school. From traffic. From everything. And just live in the moment. Every stretch of skin, every pore being refreshed.
I owe this all to Viejas.
I return to my room to find it perfectly made up. A note was left on my bed thanking me for the stay. I normally don’t get emotional leaving aa place, I mean, c’mon, it’s just a hotel, right?
But Viejas is way more than just a stay at a hotel.
It’s an escape from the world around. It’s a getaway from the moments I dread. It’s a reminder that in just a little under 24 hours, I can be transported to somewhere I can rest in luxury. Dine in award-winning restaurants. Win cash while I game with new friends. Sip on an amazing cocktail made by rockstar mixologists. Lay in the hands of relaxation specialists.
All with smiles on their faces. Making my smiles stretch from ear to ear. My one-night getaway at Viejas might be over, but the fortunate part of this story is that there are countless amounts of nights in the future ready for me to return.
Return to elegance, to fun, to relaxation, to San Diego’s luxury resort—Viejas.